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Playing the Roll – Part 1

Written by HikerAngel :: [Saturday, 17 October 2020 01:57] Last updated by :: [Sunday, 18 October 2020 00:38]

Playing the Roll

This will be a poll story, so its direction will be determined by the readers. I’ve written two such stories in the past: Superstarter and The Sister. This will be similar, though not exactly the same. The choices will be a little different with each episode. I’m planning to post an update once per month or so, rather than weekly as I’ve done in the past. That will allow more time for people to vote and give me more time to adapt to the changing direction of the story and try to make it as fun for all of us as possible.

I’d also like to thank Rjjt, Thero, and Woodclaw for their assistance on the story, particularly on the Dungeons & Dragons elements. ~ HikerAngel


As I walked up the steps to see Mrs. Francone, finger raised to press the doorbell, I could hear raised voices from inside the door. Curious, I held my hesitant finger an inch from the button, and leaned in, pressing my ear to the old oak door.

“I mean it, grandma, I’m leaving. Everyone at school tells me I can make it in Hollywood! Even my professors! It’s a waste of time and money to keep going to college for a BFA in theater!”

The voice was Beth’s, a classmate of mine back in high school – and frequent object of my adolescent fantasies. I wasn’t surprised by her words. The raven-haired girl had been absolutely stunning in high school. I hadn’t seen her since she had gone to college, but the fact that I was about to see her again sent my heart rate racing in excitement.

“Hollywood!” Mrs. Francone scoffed, practically spitting the word. “You want to waste your life peddling entertainment? That’s such a waste of your inheritance, girl. Can’t you see that?”

“Just give me my inheritance, grandma! I’m 19. I deserve it. It’s my life. I should be able to do whatever I want!” Beth retorted, clearly irritated.

“Absolutely not. Not if you intend to waste it on frivolous things! There’s a reason that your parents entrusted me with their bequest, Beth,” Mrs. Francone’s voice had a tone of finality. I knew that tone. It was the same tone that she had used when she had commanded me to come next door and help set up her new computer. Her call earlier in the day had been to tell me that it had arrived.

Not wanting Beth to become so exasperated that she left the room before I could see her, I decided it was time to make my presence known and punched the doorbell.

Footsteps clunked on the hardwood toward the door, and it opened to reveal a stone-faced Mrs. Francone. However, her eyes and the corners of her mouth softened as her eyes landed on me.

“Jim, what a pleasant surprise! You’ve come here to set up my computer, haven’t you? In all the excitement, I’d nearly forgotten!” the elderly but spry woman said. “Right this way…”

As she led me into her study, I glanced around the room, my eyes searching for, then coming to rest on Beth. She was clearly still angry from the conversation with her grandmother, jaw tight and fingers clenched. But she was every bit as beautiful as she had been when I’d last seen her. Her long legs, bare to upper-thigh in her tiny yellow shorts, were tanned and perfectly toned. Her arms crossed tightly under shapely breasts, which were firmer and more defined than I remembered.

I shot the gorgeous brunette a quick smile as I entered, and, to my delight, she returned it for a brief instant. It didn’t take long, however, for her red lips to draw back into their previous frown. I set down my backpack and took off my shoes, placing both in an orderly position by the front door.

Mrs. Francone led me to the living room, where her desk sat in the corner beneath two large cardboard boxes. “Now here are the boxes with the infernal contraption inside. While you work on that, I’ll finish the cookies I’m baking.”

The old woman paused, eyes sparkling as they gazed into mine, as if considering a new thought. “You still like milk and cookies, don’t you, Jimmie?”

I smiled. In Mrs. Francone’s mind, I was still ten years old. But honestly, who doesn’t like milk and cookies, ten years old or not?

“Absolutely, Mrs. Fancone!” I replied enthusiastically.

“Wonderful, dear,” she exclaimed, her eyes and mouth crinkling into a sincere smile.

I set to work, removing her monitor and computer from their boxes and assembling them on the old woman’s desk, but I could hear her conversation with Beth continuing in loud whispers from the kitchen.

“I mean it, grandma. You owe this to me! I’m not going to give in this time,” I heard Beth say. But her grandmother would have none of it, parrying her granddaughter’s every barbed comment with nimble ease.

It didn’t take me long to finish connecting the computer’s cords, and I booted the machine to the desktop, breathing in the slightly toxic scent of smoldering plastic with a satisfied smile. It was now ready for use.

Time for cookies! I thought, my grin widening, and I walked into the kitchen. My presence silenced the not-entirely-hushed conversation between the two women.

“Finished! You’re all set!” I said to Beth’s elderly grandmother.

“Bless you, Jimmie!” she said, gripping my arm in appreciation before guiding me to the kitchen table, where a small plate of cookies and a tall glass of milk awaited me.

I sat down and began to munch happily, as Beth looked at me, her dark brown eyes twinkling with amusement. “I can’t believe you’re still doing work for my grandma in exchange for milk and cookies!”

I held up a cookie and grinned. “Best wages I’ve ever earned.”

She laughed as I took a huge bite, her lips forming a broad grin as I chewed.

“So what are you up to this summer?” Beth asked, taking a seat beside me. I was thrilled. We hadn’t had a conversation this long since the third grade – not that I was keeping track…

“I’m actually going to be a camp counsellor at a music camp up north,” I replied between bites.

“Camp counsellor, eh?” she said, bracing her elbow on the table and resting her chin in her hand. “That any fun?”

I gave the question a moment of thought. “Yeah,” I said. “It really is. I did it last summer too. The kids can be a pain sometimes, but it’s not that much work, you get a lot of free time. The grounds and the lake are really amazing too.”

“Huh,” Beth replied. “Does it pay well?”

“Not really,” I laughed. “Just a tad above minimum wage. But your room and board are free, and you don’t have to spend the summer with family that way…” I said, flicking my eyes to her grandmother.

Beth caught my quick glance and seemed to delight in that particular concept. “Now that sounds pretty good to me right about now. Are they still hiring?”

“I think so.”

“Do you have any info on it?”

“Actually, I think I do,” I replied. “Let me get my backpack.”

I went to the entryway to retrieve my bag, meeting Mrs. Francone as I turned to walk back into the kitchen. The elderly woman followed me back in, touching my shoulder and gushing delightedly about the surprising speed of her new computer. I wasn’t surprised. The new one was a good decade newer than the model it was replacing.

I emptied the contents of my backpack onto the kitchen table: an energy bar, a D&D core game set, a water bottle, and two pamphlets on the camp where I was planning to spend my summer. I handed one of the brochures to Beth.

“So my granddaughter is thinking of joining you at your summer camp, Jimmie?” Mrs. Francone asked, correctly surmising the gist of my previous conversation with Beth. She’d probably heard it from the living room, just as I had overheard her conversation with her granddaughter. Mrs. Francone’s hearing clearly hadn’t diminished with age.

“I think so,” I said, glancing at Beth for confirmation. The gorgeous girl said nothing, however, seeming intent on reading the brochure instead.

“And what do you do there again?” the old woman asked.

“We help kids learn to sing and play instruments. It’s a music camp.”

“That’s wonderful, dear,” said Mrs. Francone, circling behind me to the far side of the table, near where I had dumped out my things. “I’m so glad you are using your talents to do good things. My granddaughter here wants to use hers to get rich and famous and little else.”

Beth ceased reading the camp pamphlet to glare at her grandmother. “My life, remember?”

“Oh, I remember,” Mrs. Francone said, giving the beautiful girl a calculating grin. She touched her hands to my D&D set, eyes never leaving Beth’s. “And what’s this, Jimmie?”

“That? Um… that’s just a game,” I said sheepishly. “It’s the latest version of a roleplaying game that a few of us like to play up at camp in our free time.”

“Roleplaying? That’s like acting, right? Like what my granddaughter wants to do?” she queried, eyes continuing to stare meaningfully into Beth’s.

“I guess so. Something like that.” I confirmed, slightly uncomfortable at the battle of wills that seemed to be going on between the two women.

Mrs. Francone’s fingers spread over the surface of my D&D box, and she closed her eyes in apparent concentration. My eyes went wide. What was she doing? I glanced at Beth, but she didn’t seem to notice me, eyes glowing with curiosity as they remained fixed to her grandmother’s face.

Something was happening, and Beth seemed to understand it. Mrs. Francone was doing something, but damned if I knew what it was. I thought about saying something, but the silence seemed weighty. Breaking it felt wrong somehow. After a moment, her eyes slowly opened, her gaze finding her granddaughter’s once more.

“So Beth,” Mrs. Francone said in a tone that seemed to slice through the silence that had descended upon the room. “I think you should spend the summer with Jimmie here. You can practice your acting, but you’ll be with him and his friends. Maybe some time with a responsible young man, doing something helpful to others for the summer, will do you some good.”

Beth startled. She clearly hadn’t been expecting those words from her grandmother. “But what about my inheritance? Does that mean you’ll give it to me?”

“It’s tied to the young man’s game now. If you finish his game successfully, you will receive your inheritance.”

That got Beth’s attention. She straightened in her seat as if struck by an electric current. She really wanted her money, I guessed. She must need it to be able to afford the move to California and take her best shot at starting an acting career.

“Really?” said Beth, her already luminous eyes growing larger. “You mean it?”

“Yes, child,” confirmed her grandmother. “Now pack your things. I believe Jimmie is leaving tomorrow.”

I nodded my agreement.

Beth leapt from her chair, leaned over, and hugged me excitedly before running upstairs to pack. The hug was brief, but even this fleeting touch of her upper body against mine felt wonderful.

I rose unsteadily, delighted of course, but more than a little nervous at this turn of events. So Beth would come with me tomorrow! The thought sent a shiver of excitement through me.

Mrs. Francone grabbed my arm and stared into my eyes intensely. “Take care of my granddaughter, Jimmie. Try to make her see how special she is.”

Giving my arm one last surprisingly firm shake, she strode out of the room. I slowly gathered my things, put on my shoes, and left to go back home.


The next morning, Michelle and Ron came over to my house. Our plan had been to drive together, since all of us were working at the camp for the second straight year. I had exchanged texts with Beth earlier, confirming that she would be over shortly as well.

“Hi, Jim,” said Michelle with a broad smile. “I’ve been looking forward to going up to Crystal Lake with you all spring. I can’t believe it’s finally time!”

“Yeah, man,” said Ron with a wink, entering my house right behind Michelle. “Looking forward to kicking it without the parental types looming. Think we can still con Paintball Jack into making beer runs for us?”

Michelle rolled her eyes, placing one hand on my shoulder and using the other to gesture toward Ron. “I can’t believe you still hang out with this dufus.”

“Yeah, well, that makes two of us,” I said with a lopsided grin.

“Hey!” cried Ron, clutching his heart with his hands as if he’d just been shot while unsuccessfully attempting to suppress a smile. “I’m hurt… and I’m gonna remember that when you're looking for your Friday night alcohol fix, fucker.”

Michelle adjusted her glasses and cocked her head to the side. She brushed back my hair, her right hand still resting on my shoulder. “I like the new look,” she said, blue eyes twinkling.

Michelle wasn’t as attractive as Beth – few women were – but I had always had the sense she was interested in me. From little actions like these. I wanted to be interested in her. I truly did. But I just wasn’t. As silly as it was, as little chance as I knew I had with her, I had always been more attracted to Beth. Especially now that I would be one of the only people she knew in an isolated environment at camp. If I would ever have a chance with Beth, it would be this summer…

I supposed that It was ironic. Michelle was interested in me. I was interested in Beth. A love triangle. Classic. Except that I guess it wasn’t really a triangle. Since Beth wasn’t really attracted to any of us. What did that make it? A love line? Michelle to me to Beth?

I cast aside the thought. It didn’t matter. I had two full months with Beth at camp. Her grandmother seemed to like me – of course, that wasn’t necessarily an advantage. Parental approval could work either for or against in the eyes of fellow teens. Judging by Beth’s strained relationship with her grandmother, I wagered that, in this instance, it was working against me. Still, Beth had seemed happy enough about joining me at camp last night…

“Thanks,” I replied to Michelle, almost forgetting to acknowledge her compliment after the little mental foray over my romantic landscape.

“So let’s get this show on the fucking road, dude!” said Ron, either oblivious to or unconcerned about Michelle’s subtle advances toward me.

“Can’t,” I replied. “Not yet, anyway.”

Michelle and Ron exchanged a confused glance. As their eyes returned to me, the doorbell rang, as if on cue. I hustled over wordlessly to answer the door, opening it to reveal Beth in a cropped tank and shorts, hair and makeup done to the nines.

I could almost hear the sound of Ron’s jaw hitting the floor.

“Am I late?” asked Beth, setting her two suitcases down on the porch. She looked concerned as she scanned the room, noticing Ron’s and Michelle’s stunned reactions.

“Not at all!” I said. “Everyone just got here…”

I opened the door wider, turning to see Ron’s awestruck expression well on its way to becoming a grin, as well as Michelle’s deepening scowl. “Ron, Michelle, this is Beth. Beth, Ron and Michelle…”

“Oh, we know who Beth is…” Michelle grumbled.

“Do we ever!” gushed Ron excitedly.

“She’s going to be coming with us to camp this year. Isn’t that great?” I said to the others.

“Terrific,” said Michelle sourly. She looked as if she’d just swallowed a frog.

“That’s fucking sweet!” replied Ron, eyes aglow and attempting to keep from drooling as he leered at the sexy girl.

Beth waved at the other two with a warm smile.

“Great! Let’s go!” I said, joining Beth on the porch and grabbing her luggage to toss into the back of the car.


“What the fuck, dude?! How’d you get the hottie of all hotties to come with you?” whispered Ron from the passenger seat between furtive glances at Beth’s luscious body.

“I can hear you,” Beth chimed from the back seat. “Ron, right? This car isn’t so big that I can’t hear you whispering.”

Ron shivered slightly, but continued to whisper. “And she even just spoke to me! Just now! You know what I would have paid for Bangable Beth to speak to me in high school!”

“Still hearing…” Beth reminded lightly in an amused tone.

“Sorry, Beth,” I said. “Ron here sometimes just doesn’t know when to shut up!” I punctuated my statement with double eyebrow raises on the final two words, hoping Ron would get the message.

He didn’t.

“You are so getting laid, my friend.”

A hand shot out from the back seat to whap Ron in the back of the head.

“Shut. The fuck. Up,” said Michelle, uncharacteristically swearing as she withdrew her hand.

I watched Beth’s expression turn sly in the rearview mirror, and she leaned forward, placing her hand on the upper corner of Ron’s seat.

“I never knew you were so into me, Ron,” Beth said in an exaggeratedly sexy purr.

Ron’s head turned to face the beautiful girl, eyes growing wide in surprise.

“Maybe I’ll have to sneak over to your cabin one of these nights, and….” Her eyes smoldered as she trailed off. The alluring girl dipped further forward, giving him a glimpse of her cleavage.

Ron licked his lips, and as he did, Beth could no longer keep a straight face. She leaned back in the seat, throwing back her head and clapping her hands as she giggled. I began to laugh as well. Even Michelle smiled this time.

Ron’s hopeful expression turned dour. “Fuck you guys,” he said, crossing his arms. “There’s nothing wrong with a guy being eager to ditch his damn virginity. Especially with a super hot girl.”

The candid admission sent the rest of us into another bout of guffaws.


When they arrived at Crystal Lake Music Camp, Jim took Beth to see Mr. Peterson, the camp director, while Michelle and Ron unpacked the car.

“Mr. Peterson?” I said, knocking on the already open door to his office.

“Jim! Come in! Glad to have you back this summer!” the tall, clean-shaven man inside said with a smile.

“Hi! Thank you, sir,” I said, walking into his office with Beth in tow. “I actually brought a friend who would really like to be a counsellor this year too.”

Beth stepped out from behind me, giving Mr. Peterson a brilliant smile.

“Well, as it happens, I do have need of another counsellor this summer,” said Mr. Peterson, returning Beth’s smile and extending a hand. “And any friend of Jim’s is someone I trust to do a good job. Welcome aboard.”

“Thank you so much,” said Beth, shaking Mr. Peterson’s hand.

“You’ll be at Cabin #4 in the Lakeshore grouping,” said Mr. Peterson.

Beth gave him a puzzled look, but I stepped in, touching a hand lightly to her upper back. “Don’t worry, Beth. I’ll show you around camp. We’ll go there first, so you can drop off your bags.”

Beth gave me a look of gratitude, and we left Mr. Peterson’s office and toured the camp.


That afternoon, once we had all unpacked our bags in the cabins that would serve as our accommodations for the next two months, I walked over to the Lakeshore cabin group to see Beth.

I knocked on the door to her cabin, and she answered, practically quivering with excitement.

“This is so cool, Jim! I’ve never been to a camp before. Hell, I’ve only been car camping a couple of times. This summer is going to be so much fun!”

She hugged me. For the second time in my life. It felt amazing. I couldn’t help but notice the scent of her shampoo as her hair fell into my face. Strawberries and cream. Seemed appropriate.

As she pulled away, I reluctantly released my hold on her fit, curvy body.

“So I guess the kids don’t get here until Saturday, right? So we’ve got a couple of days to get settled right?” she asked.

“That’s right,” I confirmed.

“So what do you usually do for fun around here, seeing’s how we’ve got some time to kill…?” she asked, giving me a crooked smile.

“Swim. Drink. Play cards. Play roleplaying games…” I tried to think of anything else, coming up blank. I shrugged and gave her a sheepish look. “And that’s about it.”

“Swimming sounds great right about now,” Beth said, fanning herself. “These cabins really heat up in the afternoon.”

“Yeah,” I said, visions of a swimsuit-clad Beth making me starry eyed. “I’ll round up the others! Meet you at the north beach in an hour?”

“Sounds like a plan, Stan.”

I half-walked half-ran away, eager to round up the others and see Beth again. This summer was going to be incredible!


When I arrived at the beach, Ron was already there, hands behind his back. He gave me a shit-eating grin, and I cocked an eyebrow, sensing that he was excited to share something, but I didn’t know what.

He answered my question before I even asked it, whipping two six packs from behind his back, one in each hand.

“You didn’t!” I said, smiling in disbelief. “Already? We haven’t even been here four hours!”

“Yeah, dude. I hit up Paintball Jack in the first thirty minutes. You think I’m going to unpack when there’s beer to be had? Think again, my dimwitted friend.” Ron gave me his best smug bastard impression.

“Well, my hat’s off, man. A party vibe is most definitely in order. Beth’s meeting us down here in a few for a swim.” I attempted to suppress my excitement. It must have worked because it took a few minutes for Ron to connect the dots.

“Wait! Beth? Swim?” Ron’s eyes widened as realization dawned, his voice becoming breathy. “As in swimsuit?”

He whistled. “Fuck, man. This is going to be the best summer EVER!”

“My thoughts exactly,” I said, laughing.

We heard a snapping twig from the trees and both turned to look. Though we saw movement, we couldn’t identify the person until she emerged from the trees.

It was Michelle.

Ron and I let out a long breath of disappointment.

“Well, fuck you guys too!” said Michelle, frowning. “Don’t be happy to see me or anything.”

Michelle seemed to be swearing more than usual the last couple of days. Weird.

“Sorry, ‘Chelle. That wasn’t cool. We were just…” How should I put this in a way that didn’t offend Michelle…?

“Waiting for the fucking teenage supermodel? I get it. Stupid guys.” She spat out the last word as if it were battery acid before setting her bag on the hot sand and pulling off her t-shirt to reveal the top half of a black one-piece swimsuit.

Michelle looked fitter than she had last summer. Not Beth fit, but she’d probably lost half of the ten-ish pounds of pudge she’d carried throughout high school. I had to say she was looking pretty good. I pulled off my own t-shirt, looking down at the slight bulge in my belly, more resembling the side of a keg than a six pack. I needed to work out a bit more this summer. Especially if I wanted to improve my chances with Beth.

Ron pulled the shirt off his thin, underdeveloped frame as well, and we prepared to head into the water.

“Am I late?” came a voice from the edge of the trees. I whirled to see Beth, long, shapely legs bare under her oversized t-shirt.

“Not at all!” I said, hearing my voice rising slightly. I swallowed as she neared the group.

She dropped her bag to the sand, crossed her arms as she gripped the hems of her shirt and pulled it upward. As the shirt rose above the lower half of a bikini to reveal a sculpted stomach, I felt my palms begin to sweat. I’d never seen Beth in anything more revealing than the tank and shorts she’d worn this morning!

The shirt continued to rise, the motion making the soft ridges of her abs slightly visible as they tensed.

*Thump.* *Thump.*

I heard the sound of each of Ron’s literal six packs hit the sand, knowing that he must have lost control of his finger muscles with Beth’s awe-inducing display.

The shirt rose higher, past two small triangles of neon green fabric that covered the graceful swells of her breasts. She pulled the shirt over her hair, initiating a cascade of inky silk as it flowed through its collar. When her raven tresses had fallen back into place, she cast it aside to the hot sand.

Beth flashed the group of us a dazzling smile, then ran toward the water, giving us a tantalizing view of her sexy backside as she did. She splashed into the water with a delighted giggle, then dove forward, gliding gracefully into the cool lake.

She flipped onto her back and called out to the rest of us. “You guys coming in or what?”

I looked at Ron. He looked stunned. Then at Michelle, who gave me a trademark roll of her eyes.

I shrugged, then ran after her, feet tingling as they splashed into the cool water, then, when the water reached hip depth, dove in Beth’s direction. The others joined closely behind, and we laughed, splashed, and Marco Polo’d away the afternoon until the sun lay low on the horizon.

Toweling off, after returning to the beach, I wandered into the woods to gather some firewood. The others joined me, and it didn’t take long to accumulate enough to keep a campfire going all evening.

Ron and Michelle built the fire, as I reached into my bag and pulled out my box of D&D materials. Beth, watching what I was doing, seemed to recognize the box.

“Is that the game my grandma was telling us about?”

“Telling us about?” I gazed at her once again t-shirt-covered form. “She said something about it, I guess. Something about your inheritance, I think?”

Beth’s dark chocolate eyes blazed with a sudden intensity, her voice distant. “Yes. My inheritance…”

“What is this whole inheritance thing, anyway? How much are we talking about here? Like millions or something?”

Her eyes remained glued to the game box, and she didn’t answer. I wasn’t sure whether she hadn’t heard me or simply didn’t want to answer my question.

I decided not to press the issue. If she didn’t want me probing her personal business, that was her prerogative. I didn’t want to pry and blow my already slim chances with her. So I opened the box instead.

I thought I saw a flash of green illuminate the interior of the box as I opened it. Was I imagining things? Maybe seeing a strange refraction of the sunset as it lit the horizon? Or did it have something to do with what Mrs. Francone had done – that strange closing-her-eyes-and-concentrating-while-touching-her-fingers-to-the-box thing? I looked at Beth. She seemed lost in thought, her eyes focused intently on the contents of the box: a half dozen game manuals, dice, board, and figurines.

My gaze still roaming an entranced Beth’s features curiously, I decided to speak again. “Ever play D&D before?”

This time, my words seemed to rouse her.

“What?!” she asked, eyes finally leaving the game to stare at me blankly. She blinked as she attempted to conjure my words from her short term memory. “Oh, um… I mean… no!”

“That’s okay. It’s not like the rest of us are experts or anything either. We only ever really play while we’re up here at camp. There’s not much else to do. No cell signal even!”

Beth’s shoulders relaxed, and she smiled, the strange rigidity of her body as she had stared at the green flash inside the game box seeming to completely leave her. “Well, good. Hopefully, I don’t do anything too terribly silly.”

“I’m sure you will,” chirped Michelle, smiling darkly. “Newbs are always annoying…”

Ron stuck out his tongue at Michelle, giving her a raspberry. “Don’t listen to her, Beth. You’ll do just fine. She’s just giving you a hard time.”

Michelle smacked Ron on the arm.

“What was that for?” said Ron in an exaggeratedly affronted manner.

“For getting your icky saliva all over me, Ronnie boy!”

Ron’s expression transformed from outrage to sheepishness. “Fair enough. I suppose I deserved that then.”

“Come on, guys,” I said as the flames of our beach campfire began to rise, licking the quiet air of the dimming night. “We’ve got a game to start!”

“Character creation time!” said Ron, rubbing his hands together in excitement. “I call dibs on – ”

“Thief?” Michelle interjected. “You always get to be the thief. I want to be the thief this time.”

“Trying to steal Ron’s thief dibs, eh?” I smiled. “Bold move.”

“Hmmm. But maybe I should go with a paladin, so I can go all holy warrior on your scrawny little ass,” she nudged Ron.

“Who you callin’ scrawny?” Ron asked, frowning and nudging her back.

Beth looked around at each of us in confusion.

“It’s alright, Beth. Let me explain.” I cleared my throat before continuing. “Every party has to have a thief, a healer, a magic user, and a fighter of some sort. Your character’s profession is called a class. There are quite a few options that fit those major archetypes. Like a fighter could be a barbarian, a monk, a fighter, a paladin, or…”

I noticed her eyes glazing over and paused. “Sorry. Too much?”

“No, it’s okay,” Beth said, though I could see that she was still catching up with my words. After a momentary pause, however, she looked at me reassuringly. “I’m getting it, I think.”

Then, she laughed. “Can you imagine me playing a barbarian?” She raised both hands into Bear-like claws. “Raaaar!”

I shot a sidelong glance at Michelle to see that she was rolling her eyes. I wasn’t sure whether the eyeroll was intended for Beth or for me, as I nursed her along with the D&D basics. It was probably for both of us, I finally decided.

“Okay. Feel free to stop me if I’m going too fast. Once you decide what class you want to play, you choose a race. They give you certain bonuses that can help your character become more effective in their class.”

“Race? Like black, white, hispanic, asian…?” asked Beth.

“No. This is fantasy,” I said, smiling warmly. “Races are like elves and dwarves and stuff.”

“Here,” I said, handing her the rulebook. “You can look through this to see the list of races and classes. Since you’re new, we’ll let you pick first.”

Ron made a stifled sound that sounded like something a wounded chipmunk would make. I shot him my best “shut the fuck up” look, however, and he sagged, thankfully complying with my unspoken command.

Beth chooses:

Ron opened his mouth to speak, but Michelle announced her character’s class and race before he managed a word.

Michelle chooses:

Ron looked upset that Michelle had beaten him to second pick. I nodded to him to indicate he could have third pick. I was happy to choose last. I was just happy for the opportunity to play the game to completion with Beth over the summer, reasonably certain that she was determined to finish an entire campaign to receive her inheritance – whatever it was.

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